I have a friend who contemplated suicide. Dear me. I suspect I’ve many friends who, at one time, when things grew so dark, secretly contemplated this ultimate narcissism.
Beneath the dirt, muck and worms living below the bottom of the psychic barrel, he summoned the courage to pick up the telephone and call a wiser friend. My pal — the one contemplated the Big Plunge Into The Abyss — told me he was expecting an industrial atta-boy and inspirational Meaning Of Life sermon. Instead, he drew this most unusual response:
WISE OLD CHAP: “Do you have a full-length mirror?”
SUICIDE GUY: “Yes.”
WISE OLD CHAP: “Good. Hang up. Take off all — ALL — your clothes. I want you to bounce naked in front of your mirror for a full 10 minutes. Call me back in 11 minutes.”
Beyond saving his life, that act of silliness changed my dear and most adorable friend — forever. He still laughs about it and came to the conclusion that you can’t be suicidal while watching yourself in the buff, bounce, flab and naughty parts flailing obscenely in the breeze. With the bouncing, he told me, came giggles, followed by a bizarre dance no one would ever witness, followed by tears, followed by the blessed release of the pain.
Silliness died a few weeks back. Well. Not really. Silliness, I suspect, is Immortal. But Terry Jones kicked the bucket.
Jones, the co-creator of the daft English ensemble, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, was 77. With a birthday on Feb. 1, Mr. Jones missed his 78th by this bloody much. I was so surprised how the passing of someone I had never met could affect me so. In the privacy of my office, I did a Silly Walk in his honor.
Drat if you people are so unlucky to have not experienced, and, more so, GOT the message of Monty Python. Jones and his troupe of intellectual and wonderfully insufferable British comic geniusi turned the world on its ear and plopped a series of cream pies on the planet’s exposed heinie. I was a teen when I saw my first pirated show. The Pythons started their reign of terror in 1968, raping, looting and pillaging the eyeballs of Great Britain, filming 45 episodes from 1969 to 1974 on BBC, which stands for Bob’s Big Carnitas, legal tells me. The show was released to America and from there, the world was engulfed in a great sheet of meringue that today, sadly, is melting.
Terry Jones was more than a comic genius. He was a renowned Middle Ages scholar, director, poet, author, writer of children’s books, lecturer, Person On Camera (because we can’t call him an Actor) and a newspaper columnist.
A Progressive columnist, hock, spit, ptooey, the daft so-&-so. Blessings on every misplaced modifier he produced and double blessings for those lisping dolts who gave him the blank canvas.
And damn it all, the tragedy, the cosmic irony of how Jones died. What a way to go. Not in a high-stepping shoot-out with bobbies after holding up a fish-&-chips boutique run by Nazis. Not fatally slipping on a banana peel. That dear Brit died of a rare form of dementia. Toward the end, he could hardly speak. This most beautiful and brilliant mind ended up attacking its host.
I’m not sure Monty Python could survive in today’s sniggering politically correct climes. Jones and his ensemble assembled some of the most brilliant, child-like and intellectually giant comedy sketches — ever.
Remember The Ministry of Silly Walks? No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition? The “I’m A Lumberjack” song? The Bring Out Your Dead bit from “Holy Grail?”
Remember “Funniest Joke in the World,” so funny that if you heard it, you died laughing and how the humorless Third Reich tried to translate it into German? The soccer match between the ancient Greek and 19th-century German philosophers? “Man Turns Into Scotsman?”
Probably, most of you don’t.
What happened to us?
It’s 2020. We walk around with our imagined enemies clutching our lapels, their feet planted on our chests, each screaming at the other.
We have comedy, thank goodness for that, although I am dismayed at the amount of vulgarity and meanness. Monty Python was clever. Critics have called them “The Beatles of Comedy.” I think they were more. The big fat squeezy snakes were surgical, like Cyrano de Bergerac, deftly slicing articles of clothing off you before dealing the fatal blow. Even better? They weren’t French. They were perfectly British, stiff upper lip, proper, withdrawn, patient and possessed that unique, put-upon, grace-under-pressure timing of great English humor. They are the Whoopie Cushion of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If.”
And more, so much more than all that, they were silly.
Heavens, under these mad dog angry times overflowing with hate, we could use that now. I was chatting with a friend, earlier in the week, about the passing of Terry Jones. He capsulized the almost unnoticed passing of the kindly satirist, along with our present condition:
“When you live in your head, you ignore the heart.”
Señor Jones spent a lifetime drawing roadmaps to our heart. It’s where that forgotten and invisible entity, silliness, lives, next door neighbor to Not Taking Ourselves So Damn Seriously.
Every parenthesis of time is doomed to be itself. We cannot rebuild a Monty Python.
John Boston is a local writer, and, as of press time, not a lumberjack. But, he’s still okay…